Monday, August 23, 2010

What the ... celebrity?!?!?

I often heard people, foreigners, go on about how we are treated like celebrities in South Korea. They go on about that is why people stare, people will buy you drinks, people will want to talk to you. We are treated like rock stars! What the kimchi?!?

I always thought that was a load of horse shit. It was a way people could rationalize most South Koreans treat foreigners, at least the English speaking ones. That way they wouldn't have to use the zoo analogy. I always found being pointed at, stared at, commented at, talked about made me feel more like an animal in a zoo.

If Koreans were running up and asking for my autograph I may have fell for the celebrity analogy. But they don't. They treat you like an oddity, sometimes one that is barely tolerated. The staring and pointing get old. Especially the hostile staring. As does the constant muttering of "foreigner" in Korean whenever they see one.

A celebrity? Grow up and stop trying to rationalize the bull shit so you can pretend everything is sweetness in light in the land of the Morning Calm and Afternoon confusion.


  1. It's horseshit all right-if someone wants to buy you a drink you know they're going to be haranguing you over Bush-ee or whateverfuckingelse 5 minutes later. They're not being friendly at all, you're just a bit of entertainment for them at first, then a whipping boy.

  2. That is true a lot of the time Anonymous.

    I try not to look at it from the "free English lesson" point of view but for many Koreans that IS what it is. They don't really care to meet you per se, it is to use their English. In some cases it is to show off to their friends who may be watching.

    I always had to laugh at Koreans, and the odd foreigner (Hilda) who would go on about how brave the Koreans who came up and talked to you were. Even those who ran up said hi and ran away. Brave? What the kimchi? Running up and yelling hi and running away is STUPID. Not brave.

  3. I used to drink that Kool-Aid. I would walk around thinking I was something special in their eyes. I guess I was just trying to put a positive spin on it.
    And there were some good experiences, like when cute little hotties would want to pose for a picture with you. But as time went on, it began to pall, and I just wanted them to accept me, and move on. I began asking them if they'd never seen a human being before.
    I began to dread seeing the kids in a pack, all of them nudging one of them to say "Hi!" which usually occured after you'd already passed them and were down the block. And then the "Hi's" would increase in frequency and stridency, demanding an answer, and then the "shepal geseki's" would start to come out.
    They start cursing you just because you're there, not for anything specific that you did.
    One drunk old ajussi tapped me on the shoulder and started to ask me a question, and when I turned around, I could see the hatred and rage contort his face into a mask, and he lurched away muttering curses under his breath.
    So you can drink the Kool-Aid if you want, but after all this time, I'm immune.

  4. This gives me an idea for another post. :)

  5. I blame the parents. I really do.